We want our children to be writers and authors. Some basic prerequisites for a strong English program is to create contexts that are purposeful and connected to our children’s prior experiences.
English is the ability to read and to use written information to write appropriately in a range of contexts. This involves the integration of speaking and listening, reading and writing.
English at Newport Gardens Primary School is broken up into a one hour reading block and a one hour writing block. Speaking and listening is explicitly and systematically taught with a purpose, and linked to reading and writing.
In the Early Years P-2: phonics, spelling and handwriting are taught both within the context of these blocks and through targeted stand alone lessons.
NGPS has recently implemented SMART Spelling across the school. SMART Spelling incorporates the systematic teaching of spelling each week, focussing on individual sounds and patterns in words. The SMART is an acronym for:
Say the word
Meaning: put it in context and discuss variations
Analyse it in terms of syllables, sounds and letters
Remember it by focusing on the parts of the word we need to remember, and then
Teach it by spelling the word aloud using letter names and clustering.
Writing is taught within the Writers’ Workshop model. This structure allows for whole-class, small group and individual instruction using both explicit instruction, independent work time, conferencing, small group work and reflection. Each lesson has a learning intention and success criteria that are displayed, unpacked and referred to throughout the session.
Students are exposed to the many different genres of informative, imaginative and persuasive texts, including the audience and purpose of these text types. They learn how different text types are structured, how to elaborate details using the language features of particular texts, how meaning is conveyed through punctuation and how to generate ideas. Through the writing process they plan, revise and edit and publish their work for an intended audience.
Reading is taught within a Readers’ Workshop model and this allows for whole-class, small group and individual instruction using explicit instruction, independent work time, conferencing and small group work, guided reading and reflection. Each lesson has a learning intention and success criteria that are displayed, unpacked and referred to throughout the session.
Student engagement in Reading is closely aligned with their own interests and ability to monitor their understanding. Therefore students have significant input into the selection of their independent texts for reading. Students are exposed to a range of texts, with access to high quality literature through classroom libraries, a central school library, online platforms such as Reading Eggs and Epic books as well as their own home libraries.
In 2020, we spent considerable time and money establishing well resourced classroom libraries. To ensure students have immediate access to quality literature we have begun sourcing books from the Premier’s Reading Challenge lists and the CBCA (The Children’s Book Council of Australia). Our aim with classroom libraries is to promote quality literature for our students that encourages our children to read a wide range of books from Australian writers and illustrators.
Speaking and listening is a huge part of everyday learning at NGPS. We encourage our students to have an active voice within the many leadership opportunities available, especially in years 3-6. Forums such as Junior School Council, House and School Captains and an SWPBS leadership (School Wide Positive Behaviour Support) give both representatives and other students opportunities to engage in regular meaningful discussions and collaborative work that benefits all students. Our students have regular opportunities to speak at school assemblies and our classes often engage in tasks that require collaboration, requiring all members of a group to communicate in a clear, positive manner.
Data informs teaching practice at NGPS. English is assessed according to the school’s assessment schedule. In reading all children are matched to texts and in writing pre and post assessments are completed using the success criteria aligned with the Victorian Curriculum achievement standards. A variety of formative and summative assessment is undertaken such as F & P running records, PAT reading, PROBE, reading and writing conferences and moderated writing samples using criteria of success. Students’ data and growth is tracked throughout the year. This is done through learning communities setting goals each semester based on AIP targets and developing strategies to achieve these goals.
English support is offered in both integrated and withdrawal models but always within the learning community. This support may take the form of Leveled English Intervention, a phonological awareness program or small focus group teaching.
Professional Learning in the area of English is highly valued within the school. It ensures that teachers and students develop a shared language for English learning. Professional development is provided in various ways such as professional reading, curriculum days, professional development off site, webinars, peer coaching and access to online PD sites.
Above all, we aim to ensure our students develop a passion for being readers and writers and are able to use their literacy skills to become life-long learners.